Friday, May 30, 2003

Change, Change, Change - Shea Hillenbrand for Byung Hyun Kim

The old Red Sox regime never did anything like this.

The Boston Red Sox executed a long-term plan to perfection, not that anyone in Boston noticed. All anyone here is talking about is, if they like the deal, how Byung Hyun Kim should be in the bullpen, or if they hate the deal, how much they'll miss Shea's bat. What they've completed missed is this: the Red Sox have known since last year that their third basemen of the future is Kevin Youkilis, not Shea Hillenbrand.

Who is Kevin Youkilis? He is currently the thirdbaseman for the Portland Sea Dogs in AA. In Portland, Kevin is on base at a .427 clip. Well, it's only May you say? Two years ago, In Lowell, his OBP was .517. Last year, he started the season in Augusta with an OBP of .433, moved on to Sarasota, .431, and finished in Trenton, .464. That's right, his .427 for this year is LOW for him. These are numbers that put you in the All-Star game. These kind of numbers put you on base 60 more times a year than Hillenbrand.

So the Red Sox put a plan in motion, took their time, and carried it out perfectly. Identifying Hillenbrand as a commodity they could live without, they signed Bill Mueller as a stopgap, who has given the Sox an added bonus of playing way over his head. Then they went about shopping for a pitcher, not someone to plug a whole while they made another desperate reach for a Championship, but a legitimate arm that could reshape their pitching staff. And they found one in Byung Hyun Kim. Kim is only 24, but his stat line for his career already looks like this:

323 innings 151 walks 380 strikeouts!

This is a serious young thrower we have here, and the Sox know it. They're not worried about patching up the bullpen. They'll find other guys to do that. What they see is a rotation that for once, is not built around retreads:

Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
Casey Fossum
Byung Hyun Kim

If you had to deal this rotation for the Yankees rotation of Clemens, Mussina, Wells, Pettite, and Weaver, you wouldn't do it. The Yankees staff has accomplished a lot more, but I'll guarantee you the five Red Sox pitchers listed here will win more games in the next five years then those Yankees pitchers.

An increasingly common wonderful day for a Red Sox fan.

I'm having two teeth pulled in about an hour and a half, so I'll just say that the winner of the Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor is Ronnie Belliard of the Colorado Rockies. He got proper press coverage because he was 5 for 5, and writers notice all of those hits. But if you want to find email for the Boston Globe, you can always give them a hard time for not knowing who Kevin Youkilis is.


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